Nigeria and South Africa Ministers held meeting over Xenophobic Attack
South Africa and Nigeria have resolved
to establish an early warning system in response
to xenophobic attacks and to strengthen
relations between the two nations.
International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane
and her Nigerian counterpart Geoffrey Onyeama
held a bilateral meeting on Monday.
This follows a wave of xenophobic violence in SA in February.
The meeting was attended by several officials from both countries,
including Nigeria’s interior minister
and South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba.
Ten houses were torched in Rosettenville by angry residents
who claimed the homes were being used by Nigerians
for drug dealing and prostitution.
Several Pretoria homes were raided
by community members for similar reasons.
“For some time now, there have been these incidents of attacks
and Nigerians have been victims,” said Onyeama.
He added that his government knew that violence
aimed at Nigerian nationals in SA was not state sponsored.
‘Dynamic’ South Africa
“We know that the South African government has always
condemned this, that the South African people have condemned this.
It was the action of a small criminal minority,” he continued.
“We also recognise that not all the Nigerians in SA engage in lawful activity,
but the vast majority are,” said Onyeama.
He said the vast majority of Nigerian citizens in SA
contributed toward creating a dynamic SA and felt at home in the country.
SA and Nigeria’s vision for the early warning mechanism
would be aimed at preventing future attacks and creating
steps for both governments to respond quickly to similar attacks.
“This way the issue remains on the front burner
and whatever preventative action, or measures required
, can be done quickly,” said the Nigerian foreign affairs minister.
He said the unit, which would meet quarterly, should include
officials from foreign affairs in both countries,
the department of home affairs, police and immigration services.
In SA the unit would include the Nigerian Union of SA,
while in Nigeria an invitation would be extended to the
South African business community for a representative to join the project,
Bomb threats dismissed
Onyeama said SA had given assurances that the security
and rights of Nigerian nationals would be looked after in the country.
He also made a similar pledge on Nigeria’s behalf, dismissing
bomb threats by a Niger Delta group against
South African businesses in the country.
“We need to reassure South African businesses
in Nigeria and Nigerians here in South Africa
that their governments are fully determined to ensure
their security and respect of their rights,” he added.
Nkoana-Mashabane described the meeting as successful
and said it was characterised by “the usual friendliness”.
She said the meeting was held to make the position of the
South African government on the recent attacks clear to the Nigerian government.
“The president, the government and the people of South Africa
reaffirmed what is in our Constitution:
To fight against all forms of discrimination based on race
, religion, sex or creed including Afrophobia,” she said.
The minister said 34 memorandums of understanding between the
two countries had been signed and still needed to be implemented.
Speaking on the side-lines, Gigaba said the approach adopted by the
two countries on the issue was a sign of political maturity.